Mr. Trash Wheel, a floating mechanism with large round eyes affixed to its hood, was installed on a tributary leading to the Baltimore Harbor in 2014. Since then, the trash-scooping object has intercepted 638,594 plastic bags, 1,000,000 styrofoam containers, 150 miles of cigarette butts, and one ball python. Using the power of the sun, the semi-autonomous machine rakes litter out of the water and up a slow but sturdy conveyer belt. The belt is strong enough to hoist mattresses, trees, and kegs from the water and into a dumpster located on a separate barge for recycling and disposal.
The device was created by sailor and engineer John Kellett who watched debris build up around Baltimore’s waterfront for over twenty years. Mr. Trash Wheel has helped lead to Maryland’s statewide ban on Styrofoam food containers (a first in the country), partly because of a loyal Twitter following by local fans who are witness to the devastating amount of trash intercepted each day.
Although Kellett plans on installing trash wheels in other cities across the US including California, New York, and Hawaii, and internationally, he had also focused on adding more trash-eating power to his local harbor. Mr. Trash Wheel now has two cousin interceptors named Professor Trash Wheel and Captain Trash Wheel who have equally cartoonish eyes attached to the front of their wide-mouthed exteriors. You can watch Mr. Trash Wheel digest its millionth pound of trash in the video below, and view a live stream of real time waste consumption on its website. (via WBUR)
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COMPANION, a 121-foot-long inflatable sculpture by street artist KAWS, launched today at Victoria Harbour in Hong Kong. The reclined, monochrome figure is the largest to date for the American artist, with recent previous iterations of the project installed at the Chiang Kai Shek Memorial Hall in Taipei, Taiwan, and on Seokchon Lake in Seoul, South Korea. The figure was purposefully designed to be in a peaceful repose, its crossed-out eyes gazing at the sky above.
“I was thinking of all the tension in the world, and I wanted to create work that would make people think about relaxing,” KAWS recently told TIME. “And there’s nothing more relaxing than lying on your back in water and looking up at the sky.”
To get the monumental work far enough into the water, tugboats pulled the sculpture from Wanchai to the waterfront off Tamar Park until it reached the Central Harbourfront. The event was celebrated with a water spray performance by the Hong Kong Fireboat 1 Elite. The work was launched by Hong Kong-based creative studio AllRightsReserved for the annual Hong Kong Arts Month, and will continue to occupy the harbor until March 31, 2019. (via Artsy)
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For his “Swimmers” print series, artist Brendan Lee Satish Tang transformed traditional blue and white ceramic dishware patterns into a symbol for culture: the complex, learned, and shared pool that surrounds us all. Each intricately drawn work features two swimmers (parental figures and children, siblings, and peers) who are seemingly unaffected as they attempt to navigate the rippling waters together.
Born in Ireland to Trinidadian parents, Tang received a formal art education in the United States and in Canada, where he is a naturalized citizen. He has lectured at conferences and academic institutions across North America, and his work has been exhibited and collected at museums and galleries across both nations. Currently based in Vancouver, Tang works primarily in clay to explore themes of tradition and culture with a particular interest in cultural appropriation and hybridity, which he says reflects his own “ambiguous cultural identity.”
The crosshatching and subdued blue tone give Tang’s drawings a sketch-like quality, while the morphing of the ceramic waves show a deeper level of planning and precision. A play on the idiom “a fish out of water,” Tang writes on his website that “we are the fish,” adding that humankind is “always finding our way through our greater culture.” Brendan Lee Satish Tang is represented by Gallery Jones in Vancouver and Elizabeth Leach Gallery in Portland. Check out his website to see where he will be showing next, and follow him on Instagram for closer looks at his latest work.
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Dutch artist and designer Daan Roosegaarde created WATERLICHT to raise awareness about rising water levels and the need to continue to innovate and adapt to our changing environment. The ethereal projection uses a combination of LED and lenses, which forms a constantly shifting layer of billowing blue light above the heads of viewers. Since its inception in 2016 as a site-specific artwork for Amsterdam’s Dutch District Water Board, the immersive installation has been shown across the world in London, Toronto, Paris, Rotterdam, Dubai, and at the United Nations headquarters in New York City.
In a statement on the artist’s website, WATERLICHT is described as a “dream landscape about the power and poetry of water… WATERLICHT creates a collective experience to share the importance of water innovation.” Roosegaarde seeks to encourage positive thinking towards adaptations like building floating cities and generating power from water, while also offering a visceral reminder of the power of water and how it can reclaim land.
Roosegaarde’s body of work focuses on the complex relationship between people and our natural surroundings, including smog, space waste, and rainbows. He was recently named a visiting professor at Monterrey University in Monterrey, Mexico for 2019. You can discover more of Roosegaarde’s projects on his website, and watch an interview with the artist at the site of WATERLICHT’s Toronto installation in the video below. (thnx Marlies!)
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Last year may not have been the most prolific for Italian street art legend Blu (previously), who besides releasing Minima Muralia, a 288-page collection of 15 years of murals, completed only two officially announced murals. His latest piece titled Capita, was recently shared on the elusive artist’s only official communication channel Blublu.org. The mural was painted in Rome’s Rebibbia neighborhood, and was realized in collaboration with Comitato Mammut, a self-managed civic organization. Painted using artist’s intricate illustrative style, the image depicts an imaginary amusement park water slide attraction as a sharp critique of the social injustices of capitalism.
The slide offers participants several colorful entry points on top with all but one ending in the same swamp-like cesspool of trash. The only slide that keeps its original color and shape, gold, is the one used by politicians, businesspersons, and religious representatives. Ending with a crystal clear pool with and cocktail table set on a lush green field, it’s a direct commentary on subdued class division present in modern societies throughout the Western world. The piece further comments on the dramatic shift in the political climate of his Italian homeland, especially in terms of immigration and the ongoing refugee crisis. Painted on an 8-story building, the work’s oceanic backdrop depicts small boats filled with people on one side with luxurious yachts floating on the other.
Earlier this year, Blu spent several days in Valencia, Spain, taking part in Sensemurs project, the first meeting of muralists whose goal is to raise awareness of the repeated abuses by the local port authority toward people living in the La Huerta (Orchard) area. For this mural he depicted port authority personnel as Egyptian pharaohs using the local community as a source of free slave labor. A few months later he began work on another large piece in Rome, painting revisited versions of the Greek Venus de Milo next to a similarly redone David by Michelangelo, as a commentary on the modern values of consumerist society. The piece is yet to be finished.
Blu remains completely focused on working with non-government organizations and groups, creating works as a gift and source of empowerment for local communities, all while trying to retain is anonymity. Exposing everyone from corrupt politicians to violent police or greedy real-estate moguls, the artist is continuously producing work that supports common people and their fight against an increasingly imbalanced economic and political system. (via Juxtapoz)
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The project Water.Shapes.Earth uses aerial photography and storytelling to bring an understanding to the complex and diverse ways water inhabits our planet, from a radioactive water pond in Huelva, Spain to mud volcanoes in Azerbaijan. The images provide an abstract look at Earth’s surface, presenting purple-hued veins of a divergent river or an icy body of emerald water laced with severe cracks and splinters in its surface. Stories accompany the many images, which bring attention to how each might be a sign of climate change, and to highlight our own destructive mark on our environment. You can read about a salty marsh in Spain or glacial river tributaries in Iceland on Water.Shapes.Earth’s website. (via Colossal Submissions)
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Using modeling software and multi-material 3D printing, industrial designer Nicole Hone created a series of 4D-printed futuristic aquatic plants, or Hydrophytes, that are as full of character as the natural organisms they mimic. In the film of the same name, the hydrophytes are activated by pneumatic inflation in water, and transform into dynamic organisms that you could swear were actually alive.
“I have always been fascinated with nature,” the designer tells Colossal. “It inspires my design ideas and aesthetic. For this project, I became particularly interested in botany and marine life. I was amazed by the way sea creatures and corals moved, and I wanted to reflect similar qualities in my designs.” While working on her Master of Design Innovation thesis at Victoria University of Wellington, Hone learned about plans to redesign the National Aquarium in New Zealand. She thought that it would be interesting to develop a “future-focused exhibition” with moving models as an interactive installation for visitors. She began making test prints and discovered that the models moved best in water, which eventually became the pieces used in Hydrophytes.
Hone explains that software was used to create the shape, surface texture, and internal structures for the Hydrophytes. One benefit of the 3D printing system is that there can be a varying degree of hardness for the parts, but the machine can still handle printing them as a seamless object. During printing the works are encased in a support material, which Hone has to then painstakingly remove (sometimes a 4-hour process) by soaking them in water and using a toothpick. After cleaning, air is passed through the CGOs (computer generated objects) and they are placed in the underwater environments.
“They can respond to external forces such as gravity, water ripples or currents, and interaction with people or other 3D prints in real life,” Hone said. “Their man-made composite materials behave uncannily similar to living organisms.”
She went onto explain that each Hydrophyte has a unique character that is defined by both their style of movement and appearance. The colored lights that illuminate the printed plants were chosen to “complement each personality and amplify the emotive qualities of the film,” and the functions of each plant were inspired by the effects of climate change on marine species. “As the 4D printing experiments developed from abstract shapes into more plant-like models, their appearance and movement helped me think of which function would best suit each character,” she added. It’s fascinating to see the intersection of art and technology produce such a unique collection of objects. To view more of what Hone has created with her research, visit her website. (via Designboom)
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Editor's Picks: Sculpture
Highlights below. For the full collection click here.